SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – The Salt Lake City School Board has officially fired West High School’s principal Ford White.
He was fired after an investigation into an incident involving driving two students who were allegedly drunk home from school. White is now speaking out about the events that led up to his dismissal.
White said the morning of November 14 was chaotic, to say the least. All before 10 a.m. he had dealt with a suicidal student, tracking down another student who wrote a very concerning suicide note and removing two trespassers on campus, one of which had injured a teacher during a fight.
He then came across three female students who had been drinking.
“So I moved to a quick plan. I said they live six blocks away, follow me there\,” said White. “I’ll get them with their family, we gotta get back to the school.”
With an assistant principal tailing them, White said he drove the drunk students home.
White believed it was the fastest way to keep them safe and get back to three significantly more serious situations on campus as the school resource officer was off-campus that day in training.
“We thought we were doing the right thing at the right time,” said White.
White told ABC4 that mornings like this one happen regularly with wildly different variables.
“It is totally like being a lifeguard on a beach with 3,000 kids who can’t swim,” said White. “Whenever you have multiple incidents going on, you’re going through crisis management, polices will be broken, you’re going to have to do things at certain times to keep kids safe.”
The school board initially suspended White for driving the students home but said he feels that certain school board members used the opportunity to push him out because they are unhappy with changes he’d made on campus.
“I’ve made some drastic changes at a school that had a lot of competing interests, and I put kids first,” said White. “A lot of kids at that school are minority students who absolutely 100 percent were not getting the full support of the school that they deserved. I was changing that, that was my goal.”
At the same board meeting where White’s termination was announced, Superintendent Lexi Cunningham also announced her resignation. White says she was a staunch supporter of him during this process.
“Every teacher, every administrator is going be looking over their shoulder,” said White. “Can I make this decision? Can I help this student? Am I forgetting some policy that I can’t recall right now? People will stop helping kids and that’s unfortunate.”
White will now have to go through a lengthy licensing appeal process to be able to work in a school again. Until then he’s working as a ski instructor.
“They know those kids know that I put them first,” said White.
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